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Former BSA VP Confirmed as Tech Undersecretary 178

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the get-your-scared-on dept.
RedOregon writes "The Senate has confirmed Robert Cresanti as the Commerce Department's new undersecretary for technology. Who's that, you ask? He was the former vice president of public policy at the Business Software Alliance. Does this give anyone else the Heebie Jeebies??"
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Former BSA VP Confirmed as Tech Undersecretary

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  • by daeg (828071) on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:27PM (#15085829)
    You're getting the heebie jeebies from an undersecretary? The position means very little, be glad he wasn't given a real job like a spot on the Supreme Court.
    • Really. A paper-pusher from the public policy department of what is in essence a law firm, getting hired to a government job? Now I've seen everything.
    • by vertinox (846076) on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:38PM (#15085965)
      You're getting the heebie jeebies from an undersecretary?

      That is fine and dandy, but one has to wonder if this goes on all the time.

      Sure one undersecretary isn't that bad, but what if all positions like this were dealt in the same way.

      Boil a frog, anyone?
      • That is fine and dandy, but one has to wonder if this goes on all the time.

        You have to wonder if cronyism and giving government positions to connected corporate interests occurs all the time?

        Let me help you out: Yes, it goes on all the time.

        In this sense, the OP was right that a mere undersecretary position isn't anything special.
      • Boil a frog, anyone?

        Um, no thanks. At least, not without a good dash of cajun spices, or perhaps some good curry or chinese chilis. Otherwise, the boiled frog won't sit in your stomach and digest very well.

      • Yeah, it's not like people who have performed wonderful equestrian related activities will end up in charge of places like FEMA either ;)

        I'm glad that it's someone that at minimum has experience in the industry, it may not be the experience that people want/desire (esp here at /.) but at least it's not someone who has no clue what tech is. i've seen that far too often in the front office of various orgs and it weighs on their tech operations/direction. At least there is some level of clue in the field,

      • That is fine and dandy, but one has to wonder if this goes on all the time.

        One doesn't have to wonder, because it has been quite obvious over the last six years that the Republican party has some interesting priorities. FEMA, TIA, The Delay corruption, secret prisons, torture, An unjustifiably elevated level of secrecy, laws that clearly favor big corporate interests over the public at large, and A president who feels he is above the law- this appointment appears to be along the same lines as what we've alr
    • Think about it. The top jobs are political payback and friends and it is the underscretaries and other "minor" functionaries that actually do the work and do most of the harm.

      Be afraid, be very afraid.

  • if you say so shure.. else it is just the government in action again

    Nothing to see here please move along..... oh and PAY US..
  • Everyone except (Score:5, Insightful)

    by idonthack (883680) on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:28PM (#15085843)
    Does this give anyone else the Heebie Jeebies??
    Everyone except the Senators. They're getting new cars.
    • Re:Everyone except (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fm6 (162816)
      If the Bush Administration doesn't give you Heebie-Jeebies on a daily basis, you need to reduce your valium dosage.
  • Oh no (Score:5, Funny)

    by Kijori (897770) <ward.jake@NosPam.gmail.com> on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:29PM (#15085846)
    Now the government might start using bad data to justify ridiculous copyright laws and restriction of users' rights! But wait, surely no-one would let them get away with that?
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:32PM (#15085881) Homepage Journal
    The BSA was pretty impotent. They achieved only a tiny bit of what they could have, had they had half a clue. Personally I hope they hire more people from the BSA.
    • They may have underachieved, but they've had a significant influence. They've had offices raided by armed marshals and who knows how many disgruntled employees report their employers. They've put millions of dollars into advertising campaigns. The BSA [msversus.org] has an office in Washington, D.C. I'm sure it's not just to be near the famous attractions. There's definitely a lot going on. You just don't hear much about it.
      • You can goddamn betcha the BSA has had an influence. My startup will be a Microsoft-free zone - I can't afford to have my business disrupted by a bunch of extortionate asshats because someone might have slipped up with an Office CDROM, and why go through the hassle of switching when I can do it properly right from the git-go?

        http://news.com.com/2008-1082_3-5065859.html [com.com]

        So long, Redmond. You coulda had a bunch of seats, but I'm too busy to watch my back for the BSA, and frankly the security holes aren'
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:32PM (#15085885)
    I would have thought they would have went with some script kiddie or long-haired open source zealot, but instead they went with an industry man. Still scratching my head over this one.
    • The point being this is a business man, not an industry man. Many slashdotters have indicated that the BSA is an impediment to the industry.
  • by jamesl (106902) on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:32PM (#15085890)
    Here's a guy who ran a market-leading motorcycle company into the ground in the days of carburettors, coil ignition and chain drive. Now he's in charge of technology for the good old US of A.

    I loved those BSA motorcycles.
  • It's consistent (Score:5, Informative)

    by ktappe (747125) on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:33PM (#15085903)
    This administration is all about foxes guarding the henhouse. Considering that ex-oil executives are energy czars and ex-forestry industry personnel are in charge of monitoring the environment, this latest move really shouldn't come as a surprise.

    -Kurt

    • Better Analogy (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Mateo_LeFou (859634)
      This administration is about propagandists writing the dictionary. I just watched the Commerce committee's hearing on Grokster [senate.gov], and it's depressing how often they throw around the term "intellectual property"

      Them I forgive; they're senators, not technologists. But note this well:

      As Cresanti pushes to expand the scope and scale of software patents, he knows full well that the term "intellectual property" is problematic at best and outright deceitful at worst. As rms said, when people use this term they a

    • Re:It's consistent (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TheCarp (96830) *
      Yup, I don't think that they have missed a single opportunity to suckle at the cock of big buisness.

      Lets not forget to add to that list no bid sweetheart deal contracts for hailburton. Installing a big oil consultant as head of afghanistan, tax cuts, defeating net neutrality... doesn't seem to matter the issue, as long as it doesn't mean a bare breast on TV big buisness can just have its way.

      -Steve
    • This administration is all about foxes guarding the henhouse.

      It could also be argued that the administration is picking people who know something about what they're regulating and understand the issues. Mind you, I don't say you're wrong, just that there's more than one interpretation of this.

      • Re:It's consistent (Score:4, Informative)

        by DSP_Geek (532090) on Friday April 07, 2006 @02:47PM (#15086619)
        After Rumsfeld fucking up Iraq, Chertoff screwing up FEMA, the entire Administration blowing up the budget, FCC administrators selling us down the river to Jeezemoids and junk faxers, and various PR mouthpieces stifling scientists, picking someone who knows the matter at hand would be a freaking first for this bunch.
        • You may be mistaking malfeasance for incompetence. I know that it's usually more appropriate to assume that incompetence is the explanation, but there's really too consistent a pattern here for that to be suitable.

          OTOH, if you do desire to ascribe their actions to incompetence, then they have risen that to such a level that it *should* be punished as malfeasance. (I.e., a heavy felony). I'm not saying that I believe that there's any chance of that. I don't believe it's incompetence. Well, not except on
      • Re:It's consistent (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AK Marc (707885)
        It could also be argued that the administration is picking people who know something about what they're regulating and understand the issues. Mind you, I don't say you're wrong, just that there's more than one interpretation of this.

        So it's a coincidence that they are all from the pro-business side of the resource managed? I do see how they could select people in the know, but to only select people from within the industry that had direct conflicts with the exact same government agency they are now worki
        • "...is indicating that it isn't knowledge they seek, but a point of view."

          Okay... but let's look at this from another angle. Let's say you're hiring a department manager and there are two equally qualified candidates for the job. Both have demonstrated an ability to get results. As such, honestly, are you likely to hire the person whose viewpoints on running that department are diametrically opposed to your own?

          You might make the case that having a "no" man is valuable, but from a practical standpoint, is i
          • As such, honestly, are you likely to hire the person whose viewpoints on running that department are diametrically opposed to your own?

            If you are hiring between two candidates for ambassidor to Russia and both are equal except one has traveled extensively for personal reasons and the other has never been outside the town he was born in, would the non-qualificatory issues of personal travel influence the decision? I would think that the person whose personal interest in travel matched with the job require
      • Re:It's consistent (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Valdrax (32670) on Friday April 07, 2006 @04:15PM (#15087384)
        It could also be argued that the administration is picking people who know something about what they're regulating and understand the issues. Mind you, I don't say you're wrong, just that there's more than one interpretation of this.

        No, "foxes guarding the henhouse" usually implies people who know the situation but profit from not enforcing the rules.

        The problem with conservative government is that it's primarily run by people who wish it didn't exist in the first place. The reason why everything is so screwed up in the current administration is because it's staffed by people who have such disrespect for the institutions that they are running that they don't bother to do the job right.

        Witness FEMA. Grover Norquist of the Americans for Tax Reform once stated, "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." Congratulations. Was New Orleans a good enough bathtub for the people to realize the problem with letting people with this attitude run things?
        • The problem is that they have drowned real government functions in the bathtub, but they're still proclaiming that it's alive and well, and charging us more for these "services" every year. If they'd just honestly pursue their smaller government goal, then at least people would expect to fend for themselves and maybe even try to help their neighbors more. Things would have been less bad with Katrina if the people of New Orleans weren't still thinking FEMA was alive and well.

          That's not to say a functional
      • Re:It's consistent (Score:3, Insightful)

        by greg_barton (5551) *
        It could also be argued that the administration is picking people who know something about what they're regulating...

        Hey, so why don't we hire pedophiles to protect our children?

        Oh wait...we do [uidaho.edu]
    • Try government in general, regardless of who appears to be in charge at the time.

      Oh wait, you just had to get in a quick jab at Bush.. nevermind.
      • Try government in general, regardless of who appears to be in charge at the time. Oh wait, you just had to get in a quick jab at Bush.. nevermind.
        Yes, it was a jab at Bush, but I do not think your claim that all government does this holds water. I do not recall Clinton consistently appointing people to positions of power who had conflicts of interest between those positions and their previous careers. If I'm wrong, feel free to cite examples.

        -Kurt

  • Business as Usual (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tackhead (54550) on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:36PM (#15085937)
    > Former BSA VP Confirmed as Tech Undersecretary

    Sounds like par for the course to me.

    About the same as a Doubleclick hack [wired.com] (Nuala O'Connor Kelly, Chief "Privacy" Officer of Doubleclick) advising HomeSec on privacy.

    Or the Gator/Claria hack [slashdot.org] (D. Reed Freeman, former Gator/Claria Chief "Privacy" Officer) sitting on HomeSec's Data "Privacy" and "Integrity" Advisory Committee.

    Maybe we should be thankful. Based on precedent, the BSA guy should be put in charge of the Copyright office, or perhaps hired by NSA to... adjust its priorities when it comes to what sort of traffic is worthy of further investigation.

    Anyone taking bets on when Jeff Bezos gets picked to head USPTO?

    • I thought they were planning on tapping James Wallace (lead council for NTP) to head up the USPTO.
    • Re:Business as Usual (Score:4, Informative)

      by Puhase (911920) on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:47PM (#15086056)
      Had to look twice at that second reference. Gator!? The guys who practically invented mainstream data-mining? I've seen some of the inside of Homeland Security and I was depressed at its prospects. But between this and the fact that they regularly hire sexual predators to defend us,

      http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/000294.php [tpmmuckraker.com]

      this is getting to ALMOST be so scary its funny.
      • this is getting to ALMOST be so scary its funny.

        when was it ever funny ?

    • by twitter (104583) on Friday April 07, 2006 @02:28PM (#15086443) Homepage Journal
      From TFA:

      The National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Technical Information Service and the Office of Technology Policy all fall under the oversight of the Technology Administration

      So there's one big no vote on making any free file formats or programs standard issue for government offices. That's a big deal.

      People from the BSA have no place in government service in any case. The BSA is an organization that sued public schools systems for copying a text editor [salon.com]. People who do things like that should be shunned.

      Ugh, he even looks like a bit character from the Sopranos [hillnews.com].

    • Republicans are suits. It's what's in their soul. They're suspicious of anyone who's not a player "in business" in one way or another, and they really feel least threatened around PHB types, whom they see as "normal" and "regular" people (i.e. fellow white bread borgeouis suits).

      It's no wonder, therefore, given the current American political climate and composition at the federal level, that the suits are taking over. When the powers that be select a head for anything, they don't begin with a long line of p
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:37PM (#15085952)
    If this administration was to make an appointment that didn't favor business interests over the needs of the populace, THEN I'd be worried. I'd be expecting a time-space continuum breach or the earth spinning off its axis or something.
  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:38PM (#15085960)
    From a ZDNet Aug.1, 2005 Declan McCullagh article titled , Copyright lobbyists strike again [zdnet.com]
    The Central American nations participating in CAFTA must also:
    - Permit software patents
    - Extend copyright protection to "70 years after the author's death"
    - Ban the "manufacture" or "export" of any hardware or software that could decode encrypted satellite TV signals
    - Offer "online public access to a reliable and accurate" WhoIs database of domain name registration details

    It's true that these may be ideas beloved by the Bush administration and business lobbyists, but they have far more to do with special-interest lobbying than traditional notions of free trade.

    In reality, they're simply the latest in a string of victories that copyright lobbyists have managed to accumulate in the last decade--under both Democratic and Republican presidents--through adept work at influencing the arcane process of treaty drafting.

    Negotiating below the radar "We push for that in trade agreements and treaties and bilateral" agreements, Robert Cresanti, vice president for public policy at the Business Software Alliance, told me last week. Members of his group include Adobe Systems, Cisco Systems, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel and Microsoft.
    • To quote from "Ed Wood", McCullagh is not fit to suck my shit. The bastard essentially faked the Al Gore story, then the stupid sonovabitch boasted about it. Nice attempt at slithering back to respectability, Declan, hope you enjoyed the taste of Rove's cock after the entire country got butt-fucked.

      http://www.sethf.com/gore/

  • ...it sure makes me want to switch every computer I can to Linux in a hurry.
  • by Creosote (33182) on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:39PM (#15085975) Homepage
    I first interpreted "BSA" in your title as Boy Scouts of America... ... and given the nature of Bush Administration appointments, it would have been about as likely.
  • He a freakin lawyer? (Score:1, Informative)

    by joschm0 (858723)
    In addition to his role at the BSA, Cresanti is a former senior vice president and general counsel for the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), as well as a former staff director of the Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem, FCW reports.
  • Parallel World (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Un pobre guey (593801) on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:45PM (#15086031) Homepage
    A key role of Free and Open Source Software is to maintain a parallel world where we don't have to be the captive audience of greedy and inefficient industrialists. If the FOSS notion could be extended to a wide variety of physical devices, appliances, vehicles, and other everyday items, we could protect ourselves and our future even better.

    Generic "robotic" hardware, computer-controlled devices that do useful work for their owners, seems to be a required next step to convert centralized mass production into distributed mass production. Still the stuff of sci fi, though.

    • A key role of Free and Open Source Software is to maintain a parallel world where we don't have to be the captive audience of greedy and inefficient industrialists.

      The goal of free software is global liberation. The point of free software is to give the user control of their hardware. They must own their software to have that. The list of people who would strip that control includes government as well as private agencies. Everyone should understand exactly what they are giving up when they push the "I

  • Public Policy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:46PM (#15086054) Homepage Journal
    The best public policy is found and served by understanding the public. The public is a group of individuals who make individual decisions that best serve their lives now rather than later. This is true as we see that people would rather spend today rather than save for tomorrow, and they know they can live tomorrow by passing on the costs of retirement to the next generation rather than their offspring.

    To put a crony into this chief position is not news, it is status quo. The public is never served by the politicians, especially those who are not voted into office directly (which can have even worse consequences). The public is served by letting people make billions of decisions separately, and letting businesses and individuals find ways to serve those decisions, instantaneously adapting the market to what the public wants at that moment.

    By the time government is ready to react, it is usually too late and unnecessary. Even worse, many of government's reactions are to previous reactions that were too late, making the situation even worse for the millions of individuals making billions of decisions, sometimes unable to get what they truly want because that decision has been judged criminal by previous generations of politicians who never appreciated that the individual's need is best served by the individual's decisions.

    Read F.A. Hayek's many books for more details.
  • by mschuyler (197441) on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:47PM (#15086070) Homepage Journal
    What? You were expecting Cowboy Neal to be appointed?
  • No heebie jeebies (Score:3, Insightful)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:50PM (#15086093) Homepage Journal
    Does this give anyone else the Heebie Jeebies?

    No, I'm used to this sorta news by now.
  • So what? (Score:3, Funny)

    by mgessner (46612) <mgssnr.gmail@com> on Friday April 07, 2006 @02:14PM (#15086314) Journal
    So what? Who cares? Why is the BSA such a bad thing, unless you're into stealing software?
    • If you really think "software pirates" are the only ones who need to look out for the BSA:

      Ernie Ball [com.com] has something to tell you. Not sure that's the best account of that story. Then there are the school districts [salon.com] that have been attacked. They tend to pick targets and make examples of them. Sure, lots of places have "casual" violations, but the BSA comes in and asks you for affirmative proof of license for every piece of software on every computer you have - or else.

      Apparently (IANAL) most people screw u

      • I am serious. School districts who are stealing software are stealing.

        As for Ernie Ball, ignorance got him. I didn't notice if the article mentioned who turned him in, but that's not important for this discussion.

        I'm glad there's someone to make them legal.

        As for showing them the finger, if they have probable cause, they'll come with the law. Showing them the finger may get them away long enough that you can get them away, but they'll be back with a warrant quicker than you can buy & install legal co
        • "I'm glad there's someone to make them legal."

          I'd almost agree with you on that. The BSA just does enough to scare a portion of their customers into compliance. They need to be more effective. If people could not readily rip-off whatever software they felt like using and had to pay for it, more would switch to alternatives that are actually supposed to be free. BSA needs to be more like RIAA and MPAA to get the word out.

          "I don't see why any of this is a big deal."

          It's not. BSA is pro-business (the B)

  • by Expert Determination (950523) on Friday April 07, 2006 @02:15PM (#15086325)
    When I tried to sell a bunch of (legal) copies of some Adobe software on Ebay the BSA told Ebay to pull my auction because I was breaking the law. I sent Ebay a pretty snotty email about how ridiculous it was that they'd listen to a third party making random accusations that were completely and utterly unfounded. Clearly they had gone scouting through Ebay looking for all sales of software by their members accusing them all of piracy. My ad had even made a special point of having photos to show the original packaging and I had spelled out the fact that I was ready to carry out a proper transfer of license through Adobe. They didn't even read that far.

    Fortunately Ebay did in fact reinstate my auctions but I was pretty unhappy about the disgusting way I had been treated. I can only hope that the shoot first, ask questions later attitude will be moderated now that this guy has a government job.

    • I can only hope that the shoot first, ask questions later attitude will be moderated now that this guy has a government job.

      Ha! Moderated? More likely you'll be dragged off to a federal prison after you post your item on eBay, and when you prove it was really legal, in court, 2 years later, they'll let you go.

  • But what is with government officials running technology that know nothing about it? Can a policy paper pusher possibly understand the direction that technology is going?

    I work in the government and this is a serious problem for me. It is just too hard to get things done when your project manager is using words like doohicky and thingamagig. When they do try to BS their way through a presentation with fellow policymakers and managers, it is all you can do to keep from crying at the blatant misunderstan

  • by stlhawkeye (868951)
    Does this give anyone else the Heebie Jeebies??

    No. I've had jobs I wasn't thrilled about either, but they paid well and gave me valuable experience. I refuse to judge this man, his impact on public policy, or any other aspect of this based on Slashdot groupthink about the BSA.

    • by shrubya (570356)
      Bullshit. Yeah, your personal views are rightly irrelevant if you're a faceless IT guy at EvilCo. They're EXTREMELY important if you're Vice President at a LOBBYING organization. You don't get or keep a job like that if you don't believe what you're saying.

      But I suppose your post is right on par for someone who DOESN'T say what he actually believes. Come on, just spit it out already: "I personally support both the BSA and the Bush administration, so I think this guy is a great choice."
  • There seems to be some confusion over what, exactly, the position entails. I know this is /., and I know people like to jump to conclusions, but get the facts! Look at how the office of Technology Administration fits into the overall Commerce org chart [commerce.gov]. You see what he's not? (Undersecretary for Intellectual Property) Then read the list of offices [technology.gov] controlled by the Technology Undersecretary.
  • You know, sort of like hiring an ex-hacker to a computer security team.

    *snort* :-\

    Oh, man, I'm sorry, I just couldn't keep a straight face through that one.

  • There were four stories today on Slashdot about U.S. government corruption, and one about the government functioning as it should:

    IRS Leaves Taxpayer Data Largely Unprotected [slashdot.org]. If the IRS is denied the computer equipment it needs, there is more money for the government corrupters to steal.

    This story: Former BSA VP Confirmed as Tech Undersecretary [slashdot.org]. Another unqualified person is appointed to influence U.S. technology.

    FCC Opens Flood Gates for Junk Faxes [slashdot.org]. "Under the new rules, a junk faxer could visi

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